City firms rush to hire sustainability experts to handle incoming ESG rules
Over half of City firms expect to hire sustainability experts in the next 12 months as firms prepare to face tighter environmental regulations over the coming years.
According to a report shared exclusively with City A.M. from recruiter Hays, 52 per cent of firms surveyed will hire experts in sustainability reflecting the growing importance of environmental expertise in the face of incoming regulations.
Nearly three quarters of firms (74 per cent) said their organisation has set sustainability targets, while close to two thirds of firms said the importance of responsible investment will become more important over the next 12 months.
Martin Baxter, deputy chief executive at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, said: “Demand for sustainability skills is on the rise…[and] the finance sector is no exception.”
City firms will need to “get their own house in order” to help tackle issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss and modern slavery, Baxter argued.
New research from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests these incoming sustainability experts will have their work cut out.
According to an IPPR report, only one in 40 large UK companies have so far fully adopted the most challenging ‘gold standard’ targets for setting a course to net zero.
Of those who have signed up for the ‘science-based targets initiative’ – the most exacting standards – one in 20 have not actually set any targets yet.
That means that the vast majority of the claims by companies to be ‘green’ can’t be directly compared, or are not fully supported by science, the report finds.
The think tank argues that firms who fail to publish transition plans should be blacklisted while a new regulator should be established to develop and monitor pathways to net zero.
Sam Alvis at the IPPR said: “Transition plans shouldn’t just be a document slid out for investors that no one sees, but a tool that helps government and the private sector work closer together.
“Transition plans can and should inform the government’s green industrial policy and in return for that support, the government should expect greater pace and ambition in emissions reductions from the private sector.”
The news comes as regulators in the UK attempt to implement a range of reforms to how companies report on sustainability plans.
Last April the Transition Taskforce Plan launched with the aim of creating consistent standards by which to judge the sustainability disclosures of UK firms.
The consultation period for the taskforce ended in March. The final disclosure framework is expected to be published in the summer or autumn of 2023.
The government also released its long-awaited Green Finance Strategy at the end of March detailing its proposals to turn London into a net-zero financial centre.